Exploring the Variety in Lesson Study: Unpacking the Variety from Cases in Singapore

Project Number
OER 49/12 LTL

Project Duration
May 2013 - March 2017


The Japanese Lesson Study (LS) is becoming an increasingly popular and important model for teacher professional development (PD) worldwide. LS is an approach that creates opportunities for teachers (1) to focus on student learning, (2) to collaboratively improve classroom instruction, and (3) to conduct classroom research as a way of informing and enhancing teaching and learning. The spread of LS in Singapore schools has been phenomenal since it was first introduced in 2004, with the approach widely implemented as a tool for promoting Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). For these reasons, an exploration of the application of LS in Singapore's education context is in line with MOE's 21CC framework (Focus Area 1) and the broad strands in NIE's Research Program (specifically, the strand on teacher learning). Research on LS would contribute to our understanding of teacher effectiveness in implementing new and diverse teaching and assessment strategies, set in the context of in-service professional development. With several schools utilizing LS as a platform to develop PLCs and to promote teacher PD, it becomes crucial to unpack both the variety and quality that exists within Singapore lesson studies in order to better understand and evaluate this recent PD effort. Our proposed research study is premised on recognizing that while variety allows for greater opportunities and possibilities of adapting LS to different educational contexts, we draw attention to the challenges and concerns that arise from the different interpretations of the process and outcomes of LS. We intend to unpack the variety and quality of Singapore LS by examining the structure and implementation processes, teachers' understandings of the processes and outcomes of LS, and teachers' experiences and views on LS. The overarching research question for this study is: What are the critical features in Singapore's varied approaches to lesson study and how do they support or impede teacher professional development? The proposed study is the first 'phase' of a larger research programme our team hopes to undertake. We intend to draw on the findings of this study (from six cases) to design and organize a 'modified' and 'adapted' LS approach that will subsequently be implemented and evaluated in Singapore schools. The next phase will be proposed in another research study. Such a programme may further support the PD and PLC reform efforts in Singapore, with the nation's goals of increasing the quality of teachers as well as student learning being more readily achieved.

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